Gone, going on

(I wrote about this previously here and here.)

I was so afraid it would be a disaster. I was afraid we’d be trapped in unresolved conflicts and mutual misunderstanding. I was desperately afraid that, after more than a decade apart (but for a few days here and there separated by years of absence) there would simply be nothing left of our relationship.

In the tearing pain of goodbye I’m trying to focus on how glad I am that I was wrong. It still hurts, though … and although I love my life with Himself on our farmlet in a crook of the Columbia River, getting back to normal seems a dreary affair. Smoke from the fires raging across the Pacific Northwest casts a pall that is entirely in keeping with my mood.

The Girl Child left on Thursday. I gave myself a couple days to catch up on sleep and get my mope done, and now I’m picking up my life … and if it seems a tad mundane, and if I miss the vibrant intensity of our conversations, and if I ache a little sometimes for hugs and back rubs and other touches that say “I See You” … well, for all that, this is a good life, and I chose it, and I continue to choose it daily.

I want to tell you about the last few days of her visit, because they were too good not to be recorded.

The first blessing: Woo and Her Boy

Woo is the Girl Child’s oldest friend. Her father and uncle and I were playmates as young children, and she and the Girl Child became instant friends when they were toddlers. Over the years she visited often and even lived with us a few times, and then we lost contact. She lives in Florida now, and has a 13-year-old son, and when she heard about the Girl Child’s visit she announced that she was coming to visit too, and bringing her son to meet us.

They were here for only two days, bracketed by two full days of travel. On the second day we ran away from the smoke and drove to Mt Rainier to see the flowers in the sub-alpine meadows. I don’t know whether the flowers came early this year, or whether the person who told me August was the best month to see them was mistaken, but most of them were gone. It was okay, though – we had blue sky and forests and ancient trees, and a picnic, and conversation. At the end there was a cheap airport hotel that wasn’t too bad, and by the time Woo and her boy left they were talking seriously of moving to Washington. I want that to happen so much I don’t dare speak about it here!

After a long day of driving, talking, oohing and ahhing, we pulled into the Red Roof Inn, where I'd booked accommodation. The receptionist was so obnoxious that I declared,
After a long day of driving, talking, oohing and ahhing, we pulled into the Red Roof Inn, where I’d booked accommodation. But the receptionist was obnoxious, so I declared, “Life’s too short!” and we headed for Denny’s to regroup. Sitting there, slurping milkshake and googling from my phone, I found us a couple of cheap beds with okay reviews at the Seatac Motel. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE technology?) Google Maps told me it was just a one minute walk away. Walking with all our luggage wasn’t an option … so I poked Google Maps some more, and in consequence we spent about 20 minutes meandering through the airport before ending up right next door to where we’d started. (Technology is great, but I can be a nimnil.)

The second blessing: A whole extra day

The Girl Child and I both misread her travel itinerary and thought she would have to check in for her flight quite early on Thursday morning. At the last minute – after we’d already made all our plans around her early departure – we realized that she wasn’t flying out until late afternoon. The joy of a whole extra day for just us!

We spent it at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. How in the world do I tell you what that was like? We walked through a series of rooms dedicated to different exhibits. The first was one of his early works – interesting and nice to look at. Then there was one inspired by Native American blankets and baskets – also worth seeing. And then … oh my word. A dark room with a blaze of color and shapes. Another room, still more intense. A ceiling – I couldn’t help myself; I had to lie down and stare at it. (I don’t understand why everyone wasn’t lying down!) There followed a gradual descent in intensity until we thought it was over – but no, after that came the garden – a lavish mix of greenery, flowers and glass.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, go see this. By the time we'd walked through it, we were both so stuffed full of the joyous beauty of it we were close to tears.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, go see this. By the time we’d walked through it we were both so stuffed full of the joyous beauty of it we were close to tears.

The third blessing: Priorities

I’ve always been the one to waft along not worrying about the clock, Living In The Moment. The Girl Child, by contrast, is entirely Type A. So after Chihuly, when it dawned on me that I was still short one of the gifts I wanted to send back to South Africa with her, it was entirely in character for me to suggest just “popping over” to Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe, where we were guaranteed to find something that would appeal to a teenage boy. And, of course, it was equally in character for her to hyperventilate a little because this was SeattleYou don’t “pop over” Seattle. There is traffic!

But then we switched. We drove there. We puttered. We had lunch – clam chowder with the seagulls at Ivar’s. And every time I fidgeted about the time, she told me to relax. Eventually she said, “Chill, Mom. I won’t miss my plane. And if I’m too late to get a seat in the emergency aisle it doesn’t matter – I’d rather have lunch with you.”

Such a small thing to say … but after all those years, and all that worry and preparation and “what if we just don’t like each other” … well, it meant the world to me.

She’s back home now and so am I, but we’ve built a bridge this summer.

Author: Belladonna Took

Well into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, perpetually at risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic.

23 thoughts on “Gone, going on”

  1. Tears. Real, honest to god tears down my cheeks. For you, for your Girl, for your relationship and hearts coming together once more. I don’t know why reading about your time with her touches me so. Maybe it’s that I’m someone’s daughter. Or maybe it’s that I have a daughter. Maybe it’s just that your love for her is so palpable. I’m so glad you had this time

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, wow – thank you. I love knowing that I’ve communicated something of how I’m feeling. Sometimes the words I have feel so completely inadequate … thanks for letting me know you get it… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like you had an amazing time together! I have to agree with Lindsay, your love for her and hers for you, its palpable. Reading your words, I could sense your emotions as if I were there. I love that you built a bridge – as someone who has a strained relationship with my father, a bridge sounds like an epic feat, I hope one day I’ll say the same thing.


    1. I hope you will too. It’s an incredible feeling … I have a wonderful, close relationship with my own Marmeee (just wish we could be geographically closer!) and it’s a huge blessing to be able to look forward to an equally close relationship with my girl. One day you’ll know what that feels like… 🙂


  3. So so special my friend. so so glad and I have the wonderful privilege of hearing both sides of the story when we get together again on this side of the world. 🙂


  4. Beautiful! It has been wonderful to follow you two around and share in the love and fun! And, when SLC hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, a glorious Chihuly glass exhibit was one of the attractions. We did the same thing as you did…lie on the floor and move around on our backs to see it all. Some others then became brave enough to do it, but most looked stunned that we dared. His art is compelling!


  5. Wow! So glad you had such a wonderful time. I’m left with a sad-happy smile. Sounds as though there was lots of healing, too. So important for both parent and child. Sometimes never achieved – and that is hard. Thanks for sharing this journey.


    1. Healing is so easy and such a blessing to all concerned. It’s sad how often people refuse it … My stepdaughter is one such. She has a grudge against me, refuses to share what it is, refuses to discuss it … and it’s poisoned her relationship with her father as well as his and ours with her children. In fact it’s affected Himself’s entire family. Stupid!


      1. The Husband has no contact with his girls; I’ve never met one of them. The blame, there, lies it seems, squarely with his ex. This, we discovered from the mutual friends (of his and his ex’s) who introduced us (hope that makes sense). He’s reached out – often but has now given up. Sad.


        1. Himself’s second wife did the same thing with their two kids, and while he has somewhat reconciled with his youngest son, his youngest daughter flat refuses to have anything to do with him. Her mother is dead, so he has no defense against the accusations this young woman believes – because you cannot argue with a dead mommy, and you definitely cannot call her a lying bitch. I will NEVER understand parents who raise children to believe the other parent is a bad person! Nowadays, given ubiquitous pop psych, there is no excuse for not knowing how much that damages a child. So, so wrong!


          1. I so agree. So, so wrong. So hard to make peace. I do worry about this. Sorry to perhaps have put a pall on your wonderful time with the Girl Child. So wonderful, that.


          2. No pall, please don’t apologize. This is a real grief, and neither of us is alone in experiencing it – but the fact that grief exists in one aspect of life doesn’t diminish the joy in another aspect.


  6. I’ve been wondering Belladonna how your visit with your daughter ended up since reading your original post about her coming. It sounds like things went quite well with a new bridge built and all. I’m happy for you! That Chihuly Garden and Glass place looks fantastic, I’ll have to put that on my list of places to see next time I’m out that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tricia – yes, it was truly a blessing – and we’re continuing to communicate so much more freely, albeit at a distance, now that we’ve become reacquainted as adult women. It’s lovely … I consider my Marmeee one of my best friends, and am so happy to be able to feel the same way about my daughter now, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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